Christian Saucedo bikes around Chicago, through residential neighborhoods and industrial overpasses. Equipped with masking tape and an eye for surfaces, he placates the police officers that question his motives. His canvasses are ceilings, floors, and walls; his tools are tape and a command of perspective.
Saucedo, a visual artist from Mexico, is the current artist-in-residence at the Chicago Art Department. Finding suitable sites and architectural spaces for his work requires days, but the planning that goes into each project takes even longer. He plots and sketches directly on the surfaces, abstaining from using a projector. About four days and roughly 500 meters of tape later, his work on each piece is done. And after three months, the project, “ESQUINAS,” is complete.
His exhibit presents photographs of the optical illusions he has constructed across Chicago’s urban landscape. The photographs were taken in apartment basements and under bridges. Each location is represented by four small pictures taken from four different angles. The images show strips of tape covering different surfaces, but a larger fifth picture offers a perspective that creates the illusion of a unified two dimensional shape.
In a room full of photographs, a single installation is on display–a giant oblong form that curves from the floor up across various surfaces in the room. What appears to be a mishap of disconnected lines taped on walls and floors from one angle looks like a perfect two-dimensional circle from another. The work “deals with human perception,” Saucedo says, noting that his works are entirely dependent on the observer’s movement and the various perspectives from which they view the piece.
Walking around the gallery, Saucedo sports a blazer, jeans, and Chuck Taylors. His little son runs around the room, and flowers are passed out as Latin music plays in the background. The gallery space is equally endearing–the warmly tinted walls, yellowish lighting, and open spaces let the viewer indulge in perspective play. Circulating, crouching, and craning are strongly encouraged.
Photographs offer an imperfect means of displaying Saucedo’s public art installations. Photography limits the viewer to the perspective of the lens, presenting a scene from one angle at a time. However, the photographs from multiple viewpoints help to reveal Saucedo’s mastery of perspective.
With his tape works and photography, Saucedo complicates the standard vision of a place and makes the passerby pay closer attention. “Simple intervention in a place you see everyday” says Nat Soti, one of the co-founders of the Chicago Art Department, “makes you notice your environment,” However, Saucedo’s art does not fit the description of “simple intervention.” Both the artist and the viewer must actively search for the right spot.
Chicago Art Department, 1932 S. Halsted St., Suite 100. (312)725-4223. chicagoartdepartment.org